Writing a Letter of Apology

Mattox Law, P.C. Defense of reckless driving speeding and other traffic crimes and infractions

     Writing a letter of apology can be useful tool in defending traffic crimes and infractions such as reckless driving and speeding. These letters will let the court know you understand the seriousness of the offense and the consequences you are facing. Furthermore, it gives my clients a chance to explain the situation from their perspective. I have found this tactic especially successful in preventing a conviction based on demeanor issues. Below you can find a few helpful hints to get you started.

     First, you will want to explain why you are writing the letter.  Do not make excuses for your behavior.  In many of these traffic cases, there are some underlying reasons for traveling at that speed, such as passing a swerving tractor trailer. This letter is my clients opportunity to explain those circumstances to the court. However, you want to be careful and take credit for your actions while at the same time providing a little bit of additional detail to the court in terms of the circumstances surrounding the stop.

     Your goal is to gain understanding from the judge and officer involved. In order for this to happen, the judge and officer need to have better understanding of who you are. Discuss some of your achievements.  Are you a student? If so, what do your grades look like and what is your major? If you are actively involved in your community such as your local animal shelter or food bank, put it in the letter. Be sure to be specific and provide details.

     You need to mention how a conviction or license suspension will affect your life. Do you drive your little sister or child to and from school? Does your work require you to drive to meet with clients? Does your work require a conviction free record? Do you have a Commercial Drivers License or Security Clearance you need to protect?  Maybe you are a student paying for college on your own and cannot afford the fine or increased insurance rates or a single mom who is the sole driver in the family.

      Are you an Out of State Driver? Be sure to look into how a conviction will follow you home. Some states will suspend your license if convicted of driving 15 mph or more over the speed limit in a 55 mph zone.

    Did you take Driving School? Share what you learned especially, if it pertains to your case. Did the instructor share videos that showed the importance of wearing your seat belt, the Move Over Law, or the dangers of speeding in a construction zone? What did you learn from the fellow students? Were there any testimonials from other students or speakers that stuck with you?

     Did you do Community Service? If so, talk about what your responsibilities were and what you learned. Each judge has different requirements and strict rules about where community service can take place as well as how it is recorded and presented in court. Please contact me so we can discuss this in more detail in regards to your specific case.

     For reckless driving and driving under the influence, you need to apologize for putting the officer and other drivers at risk. Did you have passengers in the car whose lives were also put at risk? Were you in a school or work zone? It is not only yourself you put at risk.

     Were you arrested? Explain how embarrassing and difficult it was to tell your friends and family. Did they see you get arrested? If you are facing at jail time, you need to explain how this will negatively impact your career and other responsibilities..

     For my younger clients, I like for them to explain any consequences their parents may have given them. Did they take your cell phone or restrict your driving privileges? If convicted, who will pay for the fines, court costs and increased insurance rates?

     Do you have a family member that is about to start driving? If so, mention how you do not want to be a bad influence and never want to see them mimic your poor choices.

     Did you receive any charges that have since been rectified? If you had a tail light that was out, the Judge needs to know that this has been fixed. Same thing if you were Driving Without a License, expired registration or inspection sticker. What expenses did you incur?

     Were you less than polite or argue with the officer? This is your chance to apologize to the officer for letting your emotions get the best of you and explain what was going on at the time.

     Did you have your speedometer calibrated? An apology letter paired with a favorable calibration can show the officer that to the best of your knowledge, you did not know you were not speeding. A favorable calibration does not completely excuse the excessive speed but allows the officer to see where you are coming from and to the best of your knowledge you did not know you were speeding.

     I invite you to contact me today for a free consultation by phone at (804)-451-6033 or by email, trey@mattoxlawpc.com. During our consultation we will discuss what I believe to be the most likely outcome given the facts of your case as well as the best-case and worst-case scenario. Please contact me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your case and what I can do for you. If possible, have your summons with you when you call.